New York trapper Tom Dobb becomes an unwilling participant in the American Revolution after his son Ned is drafted into the Army by the villainous Sergeant Major Peasy. Tom attempts to find... See full summary »
This movie is a stark portrayal of life among a group of heroin addicts who hang out in "Needle Park" in New York City. Played against this setting is a low-key love story between Bobby, a ... See full summary »
New York trapper Tom Dobb becomes an unwilling participant in the American Revolution after his son Ned is drafted into the Army by the villainous Sergeant Major Peasy. Tom attempts to find his son, and eventually becomes convinced that he must take a stand and fight for the freedom of the Colonies, alongside the aristocratic rebel Daisy McConnahay. As Tom undergoes his change of heart, the events of the war unfold in large-scale grandeur. Written by
William Agee <email@example.com>
I'm all for the idea of a grand epic of the American Revolutionary War. This ain't it. (And for that matter, neither was the Emmerich/Devlin/Gibson THE PATRIOT. But I digress.)
I saw this film at a publicity screening at the old MGM Studios (now Sony) just before it came out. The audience had high expectations for this expensive period piece, written by veteran Robert Dillon, directed by the esteemed Hugh Hudson (of CHARIOTS OF FIRE fame), and starring Al Pacino.
But it didn't take long for people to start squirming in their seats, whispering derisive comments about Pacino's horribly misconceived accent -- he was supposed to be an American frontiersman of Scottish ancestry(!) -- and that of Nastassja Kinski, who was supposed to be recently emigrated from England(!!). Then the story started and it all went downhill fast.
Motivations were muddled, dialogue was atrocious, events had no historical or political context. What there was of a plot lurched forward on absurd coincidence; by the second or third time that alleged lovers Pacino and Kinski stumbled into each other it had become a bad joke. Donald Sutherland gave an unhinged performance as a British officer/pederast. His accent was all over the map too. I guess there weren't any English actors available.
Lots of people left. Those who stayed tried to stifle giggles, then openly guffawed. I stuck it out -- I figured that at least the battle scenes might be good. I was wrong. Inexplicably, Hudson chose to film them with hand-held cameras, not even Steadicam, the jerkiness giving a misplaced newsreel 'authenticity' which ruined the sense of scale.
There was a semi-famous TV reviewer in the audience a few rows ahead of me: (the late) Gary Franklin of Channel 7 Eyewitness News. I could tell he was peeved by the behavior of the rest of us. And sure enough, on his TV segment the next day he gave the film a '10' on his notorious 'Franklin Scale of 1 to 10', while remarking churlishly about the louts who'd disrupted the screening the night before, who clearly didn't know art when they saw it. What a buffoon.
After this disaster, Pacino didn't star in another film for almost 4 years. Hugh Hudson's career never recovered. You can't say I didn't warn you.
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